Work with me: Limited Term Business Librarian Opening

The Laurier Library is searching for great candidates for another limited term posting.  We have a 1-year, limited term part-time appointment for a Business and Economics Librarian at our Waterloo campus.  Working with our other Business and Economics Librarian, the person who takes on this position will hit the ground running and be quite busy interacting with the School of Business and Economics – the largest faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University.

I promise that this would be an incredible learning opportunity for new or recent grads, and also a chance to gain and build upon your existing experience with business and economics librarianship. 

The Laurier Library : We Mean Business
The Laurier Library : We Mean Business

Business and Economics students at Laurier work with stats and data quite a bit, so I expect to collaborate often with who ever fills this position.  I’m happy to answer any general questions you might have about the posting, the university, and living in Waterloo, Ontario.

See our Business Librarian posting here.  The application deadline is August 5, so start moving on this one soon.

-Michael.

Work with me: Limited Term Part-time Science Librarian opening

The Laurier Library is seeking out great candidates for our open limited-term, part-time Science Librarian posting. Click here for details.  I’m certain that the person who takes on this file will get a lot of classroom/instruction time and will see many research consultations – you’ll be busy, but it will be a Good Busy. 

The Library is accepting applications until July 22, 2013, so act fast!

 

(One more time: Click here for details.)

Laurier Librarians Getting the Job Done.
Laurier Librarians Getting the Job Done.

One does not simply walk into an RDC

It’s that time of year when more and more students are asking about accessing datasets for their research through our local Research Data Centre. And a couple times now, I’ve found myself having to explain that one does not simply walk into an RDC

One Does Not Simply Walk Into an RDC
One Does Not Simply Walk Into an RDC

New positions, new titles, new roles

Happy Spring!  We’re almost there, people, I promise.

I’m beginning this post with that statement since it recalls an entry I wrote last year about taking on a limited term appointment as Wilfrid Laurier University’s Government Information Librarian. It was a rather productive year as the GovInfo Librarian, and I loved my time in the job. Moving to Ontario gave me the opportunity to meet many colleagues in Canadian LIS who I would otherwise only get the briefest introductions to at national conferences. It also meant shifting “consortial cultures” as I moved from a CAUL province to an OCUL province and had to learn a brand new vocabulary of committee names and acronyms. And it also meant having to re-learn what “hot, hazy, and humid” means, let alone the value of central air.

But I digress, it was a pretty good year. The past 12 months has been full of new colleagues and friends, introductions to new scholarly resources, publishing and speaking opportunities, and a chance to “make a difference” at the workplace.  Sometimes, you leave the office later in the day than you intended, but you leave later because you really do enjoy your work.  And that’s a good thing.

My current nameplate is only an ODESI post-it, but we'll fix that in time.
My current nameplate is only an ODESI post-it, but we’ll fix that in time.

Like February of 2012, February of 2013 was a month of changes, and March 2013 is a month of announcements. I’ve now accepted an appointment as the Laurier Library’s Data Librarian. Needless to say, I’m quite excited by this news and can’t wait to get the ball rolling. One of my main responsibilities in this portfolio is to help develop the Library’s research data management infrastructure and to facilitate research data access, usage, and collection on campus and in the communities we serve.  There are some big steps involved, but my plan is to leverage the knowledge gained at CARL’s RDMI summit in January 2013 as we roll out services and resources to students, staff, and faculty on at Laurier.

Reports will follow, as they have in the past. (I’ve thought about starting a brand new blog to collect my thoughts on data management together in one place. I’ll post a link here if I do.)  In the mean time, I’ll leave you first with a link to the photoblog my spouse and I maintained while work forced us to live in different provinces for an entire year – check it out: I must say we did an awesome job.  And I’m also going to leave you with some YouTube clips. It’s impossible to talk about being a data librarian without making a Star Trek reference:

And also this one.  When talking about living in Waterloo, ABBA will sooner or later be mentioned. Without fail..

-mike.

OLA 2013 Poster Presentations: Doubling Down on Online Teaching and Learning

Are you going to The 2013 OLA SuperConference?  Are you going to be there on Thursday, January 31?  If so, then come say Hi! while my colleague, Pauline Dewan, and I present our poster at lunch.

steeleworthy_dewan_ola2013_posterLast spring, Pauline and I were tasked with analyzing the Laurier Library’s online teaching and learning programme.  We spent quite a bit of time examining the Library’s original teaching and learning objectives, how we we meet them today, and what others are doing and we we could be doing to improve online learning in this area. The outcome was a major internal report, which we are all now mulling over.  Another outcome, obviously, is this poster, Doubling Down: An analysis of and recommendations for Wilfrid Laurier University Library’s online teaching and learning programme.

To be clear, we’re still in the early stages of organizing and acting on our recommendations, but we’re still quite happy to talk about our process and examinations thus far, which is why we’re at OLA 2013.

If you can’t make it to OLA, then check out our materials here.  And if you are at OLA, then you can find our abstract in PDF form here.

Happy conferencing!

Reflecting on 2012

Porter Airlines Boarding Passes2012 has come and gone, and it’s been quite a year.  If you’ve been following along on this blog or elsewhere, then you probably know that my theme for these past twelve months has been “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” Since starting a term position as Government Information Librarian at Wilfrid Laurier University, I split my time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Waterloo, Ontario. So, not only do the students at the Library’s Second Cup know my name and face, but so do some of the stewards and other professionals at Porter Airlines in Toronto. I’m now part of the jet-set, and I can also rhyme off CANSIM tables to you like nobody’s business.

Taking on a new position in a new city (and new province) means that there has been a lot of learning and adjustment. A new job brings new duties and new work cultures.  And a new city means new roads and neighbourhoods, new cafés and pubs, and new local cultures.  I’ve traded in a Maritime hospitality built on lobster, rum, and sea shanties for Kitchener-Waterloo’s beer, schnitzel, and breads. (and I love bread.  Not kidding). Waterloo has pockets of cool, and I’m getting on quite well here.

I love my job. It has met – and exceeded – my expectations. As the Government Information Librarian, I help the university community access and use government-produced materials in their research. All of last spring’s cuts to the federal government, and especially to Statistics Canada, LAC, and to libraries within federal ministries definitely dampened the spirits of Canadian GovDoc librarians in 2012, but I’m still happy that I’ve been able to help my library’s patrons understand what the cuts mean for them and their research – today and in the future. If anything, these cutbacks have increased the need for local government publications expertise at Canadian universities, and I think the government information librarian’s role on campus is now more important than ever.

My favourite part of this position has been my work with statistics and data. Like many university libraries across Canada, responsibility for socio-economic data at the Laurier Library lies largely with the Government Information Librarian since so many of our statistical resources come from Statistics Canada.  (You can read more about the relationship between StatCan and academic libraries here. This paper by Wendy Watkins and Ernie Boyko should be required reading at library schools in Canada). I’ve long wanted to practice in this field, and I saw this posting as my opportunity to work regularly with the data skills I’ve developed through the years, and to learn even more from a whole new group of data librarians. Nearly all my favourite interactions with faculty, students, and other stakeholders in 2012 are data-related, from helping students acquire data on migration to the far north, to meeting with community members and legislators to explore nation-wide open data initiatives. These are the moments where I see my skills and expertise in librarianship put to action, and the positive contribution I make on campus puts a spring in my step. Data librarianship is an essential part of the academic enterprise; I’ve given a lot of effort in this area, worked and learned from the right people, and made gains for the library and the university. So, I’m willing to smile and say “yeah, I did that, but with the help of my friends, too.”

Scholars Portal HomeWhen it comes to adjustments, I have to say that the thing that took the longest to get used to was the new jurisdiction. I say this to all librarians, young and old, green and experienced: you will never really know how important your consortium is to your daily work until you join a new one. When I moved from Nova Scotia to Ontario, I left the Council of Atlantic University Libraries, ASIN, and NovaNet, and I joined forces with the Ontario Council of University Libraries, Scholars Portal, and TUG.  Now, my online resources are different. The OPAC is different. ILL is different. Committees are different. Organizational cultures and funding are different. Conferences and workshops are different. Support channels are different. Let me be clear: everything changes when your work takes you to a new consortium. Libraries really do things better when they work together. We’re stronger this way. But it’s not until you shift to a new jurisdiction that you’ll be reminded several times daily just how much effort colleagues at your library and at other institutions have put into making things work better, faster, and cheaper for everyone. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

The best example I can give to demonstrate this is <odesi>. Built and managed by Scholars Portal, ODESI is an essential part of socio-economic data discovery at Ontario universities. It is a repository of StatCan DLI-restricted surveys, and it also houses extensive polling data that stretches back decades in some cases. Using the Nesstar data dissemination platform, it helps novice and experience users find information from these surveys and polls, right down to the variable, and it also helps new users perform some statistical functions they may not otherwise have the knowledge to do. ODESI is a vital part of my work and I use it to access survey data almost daily during the school term. But prior to taking this position last winter, I had no access to it since most university libraries in Nova Scotia rely on the Equinox data delivery system out of Western Libraries. Moving to a new jurisdiction meant that not only did my committees and consortial colleagues change, but so too did my tools and resources, and I had to learn how to use new ones – fast. Today, I don’t know how I ever got on without ODESI. But last winter, ODESI was completely new to me because I hadn’t ever worked at an OCUL university. I have great colleagues at Laurier, and they gave me time to get to know this vital tool, but until I moved to Ontario and joined a new consortium, this was a foreign resource.

(For what it’s worth, ODESI, and the people behind it at Scholars Portal have done so much heavy lifting for students and faculty at Ontario university libraries, and I’m grateful I can use this resource and learn on their expertise. I’m also grateful that I can lean on province-wide and regional data committees for help and advice. This is a big shout-out and thanks to some great people out there – you know who you are.)

This is where the post peters out into vague resolutions and outlooks for the new year.  How will 2013 differ from 2012?  Well, I hope to not fly so much (the lustre wears off quickly), and I hope to get involved in more professional activities again. I also plan on finding new ways to up my game at work.  This will involve taking some courses and hopefully using more streaming communications tools to meet with students and faculty. We’ll see where it goes. Happy 2013!.

The Circumlocution Office

Happy Spring! Although I don’t post so often to my LIS site at the moment since I’ve recently drawn some of my time to creative writing pursuits, I do have some news to share, and this space is as good as any.

This past February, I took on a new limited term position as Government Information Librarian at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario. As well as being the liaison librarian and subject selector for Political Science, I’m responsible for maintaining and promoting the Government Publications collection, as well as handling requests for socio-economic data from organizations such as Statistics Canada and ICPSR.  When the position was posted in the fall, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role: even as far away as Halifax, Laurier had a name for itself in terms of GovDocs, thanks to the efforts of their people at the helm. I expect this year to be a great experience for me to really get behind the wheel with government documents and help drive the role they can play in the academic library. Electronic publishing and permanent URLs have radically altered our understanding of a government documents “collection,” which is why I believe that it’s as imperative today as it was X, Y, or Z years ago to have a government documents librarian maintaining the file. Selection has in many ways been simplified over the years, but the acquisition of government publications (fugitive or otherwise) is a less exact and more murkier science today than it was in the past.

Homard the Lobster

So, if ever you’re in Waterloo (e.g., at CAIS during Congress this summer), stop in and say hello. My office is on the 3rd floor of the library, and it’s hard to miss since I brought along a lobster from the east coast to keep me company.  Homard is a good guy: since he’s a bobble-head, he tends to agree with everything I say.

And finally, in case you’re wondering, “The Circumlocution Office” is a reference to Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit.  It was Dickens’ satiric jab at the stifling bureaucracy that was the 19th century British public service. Dickens was no fan of government paperwork and disorganized public departments; he may have appreciated a good GovDocs librarian..

Welcome to the Circumlocution Office